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[Cairo: a double deception].

  • Vallin, J
Published Article
La chronique du CEPED
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1994
PMID: 12178207


The 3rd International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in September 1994, was attended by 180 delegations of UN members and 15,000 participants in both the official conference and a vast forum of nongovernmental organizations. The nearly universal national representation, despite absence of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and some other Islamic countries, was a great achievement for the conference organizers and the host country. Each delegation expressed its views in an official declaration to the plenary session, while representatives to the main committee debated the program of action drafted in a long series of meetings in preparation for the conference. None of the preparations or addresses to the conference were able to prevent an unrewarding seven-day debate in the main committee over abortion. More disappointing was the failure to engage in a deep debate over development issues. A number of recommendations touched on education, health, and improving the status of women, but only as factors in fertility decline. The issue of development should have been discussed as it relates to the satisfaction of the needs of the five billion living inhabitants of the planet and the ten billion projected for the next century. The second great disappointment of the conference was that some of the progressive contents of the preliminary document submitted to the conference were greatly watered down. The preliminary document offered real progress in achieving a more lucid and ideology-free approach to questions that have long remained taboo because they touch on the freedoms of men and women in their most profoundly intimate aspects. The text clarified aspects of the rights of individuals in relation to social institutions: the right to health and education in sexuality and reproduction, recognition of the existence of different types of unions and families, and the right to family regrouping. Most of the innovative articles provoked controversy in the preparatory meetings. During the conference, the articles dealing especially with abortion, personal autonomy, and family regrouping were amended and changed to such a degree that they often lost their original meaning.

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